7

I am trying to describe a situation where the protagonist has intentionally left a door almost closed to make it appear closed, but has left enough of a gap for them to look through and spy. Therefore when describing the door I want it to read as though it is closed (because that is how it appears to the other characters), but at the same time subtly hint to the reader that it may not be completely closed. Otherwise if I describe it as closed, when the protagonist bursts through the door, the reader will feel cheated and wonder how the protagonist could see through the door to know when to attack. I have come up with the following examples:

  • The door was apparently closed.
  • The door looked closed.

But I'm not sure if there is a better way to describe this. It is a delicate balance between suggesting but not spoiling the element of surprise for the reader.

  • I assume you don't want the protagonist to look through the keyhole? – Spencer Mar 20 '17 at 3:27
  • Yes not through the keyhole. – FrontEnd Mar 20 '17 at 3:36
  • 5
    The door was left open a crack. – Jim Mar 20 '17 at 3:42
  • 3
    The door is ajar. – Drew Mar 20 '17 at 4:36
  • @Jim - Please write an answer so I can upvote it. – aparente001 Mar 20 '17 at 5:44
6

You could say that the door was to (Oxford):

ADVERB

So as to be closed or nearly closed.

‘he pulled the door to behind him’

and let the 'subtle hint' come from the ambiguity in that.

  • 1
    This is really good. So from an antagonist's POV: "Behind him he saw the door had been pulled to." Is that correct? – FrontEnd Mar 20 '17 at 3:50
  • @FrontEnd That, or "he could see that the door was to". Whichever it is has to fit within the style of the narrator, of course. – Spencer Mar 20 '17 at 3:54
  • 7
    I'm of two minds about this answer. The verb phrase pushed the door to was my first thought, but I don't think I've ever heard that a door was to. I wouldn't know what to make of that, without either pushed or pulled in there (between was and to). – 1006a Mar 20 '17 at 4:41
  • 3
    "Pulled the door to" doesn't necessarily mean it was not fully closed (at least in British English). Some types of door can close fully without having to operate the catch or the door knob, other types can not. As @1006a said, "the door was to" isn't idiomatic British English either. – alephzero Mar 20 '17 at 6:35
18

See ajar at Oxford dictionary defined as

slightly open

  • 1
    I always got the impression that ajar emphasises the state of being open, even if just slightly. So at the same time it cannot stress the state of being almost closed. Just my feeling, though, YMMV. – Erathiel Mar 20 '17 at 11:34
  • 2
    If something is only slightly open, then it stands to reason that it is almost closed! – TabbyCool Mar 20 '17 at 12:08
  • 1
    @TabbyCool I'm tempted to add almost closed to the oxford definition. If only I were the editor. :) – vickyace Mar 20 '17 at 12:25

protected by MetaEd Nov 29 '18 at 22:26

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.